January 31, 2019

In-Depth Issues:

Expert: Nearly All of Iran's Advanced Nuke Centrifuges Are Failing - Yonah Jeremy Bob (Jerusalem Post)
    Nearly all of Iran's advanced centrifuges used for enriching uranium are failing, David Albright, a former IAEA inspector and head of the Institute for Science and International Security, told the Jerusalem Post this week.
    Advanced centrifuges like the IR-8 are potentially 16 times more powerful compared to the IR-1 centrifuges that Tehran possessed prior to the 2015 deal.
    But "the IR-8 has been a failure," Albright said. Even with Iran's less advanced IR-1s, inspectors found that 20-30% of them regularly fail.
    In September, Iranian nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi announced that a new facility to produce advanced centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear plant had been completed.
    But to the trained eye, Albright said, the centrifuges in the background of a photo of Salehi were easily identifiable as IR-6s - all of which have failed to date.
    Albright said that Iran has had success with the IR-2m centrifuge, which is 3-4 times more powerful than the IR-1.

Increasing Attacks on Iranian Regime Forces by Sunni Balochi and Arab Minorities - Iran Desk (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Recent months have seen increasing attacks on Iranian security forces by the Army of Justice of the Sunni Balochi minority in the Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchestan, and by the Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz in Khuzestan.

Saudi Columnist Mocks Israel Boycotters - Karim Traboulsi (Al-Araby Al-Jadeed-UK)
    Siham al-Qahtani, a columnist with the Saudi daily Al-Jazirah, has mocked supporters of the Israel boycott movement and called for Arabs to normalize relations with Israel.
    "Emotional slogans like 'normalization with Israel is a scandal, disgrace or a crime' are now obsolete," she tweeted on Sunday.
    "Israel is reality, and our failure to recognize it...will not change reality."

UK Study: Hostility to Israel and Anti-Jewish Hatred Clearly Linked - Robert Philpot (Times of Israel)
    Hostility to Israel is closely related to anti-Jewish hatred in Britain, a new study by the London-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research revealed Thursday.
    The analysis shows a "clear statistical connection" between backing boycotts of Israel and believing that it is an apartheid state, and the endorsement of traditional anti-Jewish tropes.
    "It is perfectly possible to campaign for Palestinian rights and oppose Israeli policies without being anti-Semitic, but too often, the people involved in these campaigns show themselves to be unable to make this distinction," said Dave Rich, head of policy at the Community Security Trust.
    The research also found that only 9% of Britons believe Israeli goods and products should be boycotted.
    See also The Apartheid Contention and Calls for a Boycott - David Graham and Jonathan Boyd (Institute for Jewish Policy Research-UK)

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • Europe Sets Up Payment Channel to Continue Trade with Iran
    Germany, France and the UK have set up a transaction channel with Iran to facilitate trade despite U.S. sanctions, German public broadcaster NDR reported Thursday. The Paris-based channel, called INSTEX - Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges, will allow European businesses to trade with Iran. (Deutsche Welle-Germany)
  • Top Democrat on House Foreign Affairs Committee Opposes Pro-Palestinian Trip - Bryant Harris
    House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) told Al-Monitor this week that he opposes a proposed congressional delegation visit to the West Bank organized by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). "Instead of her talking about things, she's new here, she ought to listen and learn and open her mind," said Engel. "If you're going to be close-minded and have your views, no one's going to change her views. But I would hope that once you're elected to Congress, you would at least care to see the other side."  (Al-Monitor)
  • BBC Rejects Calls for Israel Eurovision Boycott - Mathilde Frot
    The BBC on Wednesday rejected calls by British cultural figures to relocate the 2019 Eurovision song contest from Israel, saying the May 18 competition "is not a political event and does not endorse any political message or campaign."
        "The competition has always supported the values of friendship, inclusion, tolerance and diversity and we do not believe it would be appropriate to use the BBC's participation for political reasons. Because of this, we will be taking part in this year's event. The host country is determined by the rules of the competition, not the BBC."
        Responding to the boycott call, a spokesperson for the Board of Deputies of British Jews said: "This tired old group of anti-Israel activists are at it again - this time claiming that the world's only Jewish state and the only liberal democracy in the Middle East is (uniquely among Eurovision contestants) unfit to hold this year's contest. Perhaps they also protested when Russia, Serbia and Turkey hosted Eurovision in recent years, but if so, we are unable to find these letters."  (Jewish News-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israeli Rescue Team in Brazil Recovers 20 Bodies after Dam Collapse - Yoav Zitun
    IDF soldiers from the Home Front Command sent to assist the search and rescue efforts in Brazil have recovered at least 20 bodies but no survivors. Israel was the only country to send rescue forces to Brazil. (Ynet News)
  • Former Israeli Ambassador to China Says OK If Chinese Manage Haifa Port - Herb Keinon
    Former Israeli Ambassador to China Matan Vilnai, who had questioned Israel's decision to let a Chinese firm manage the new port in Haifa, said Wednesday that there is no harm in letting the Chinese manage the port. "If they want to spy, they have other ways, they do not need the Haifa port," he said.
        Vilnai said he has since looked more thoroughly into the matter and discovered that the idea was given a great deal of thought in the prime minister's office, the foreign ministry and the defense ministry, and it was decided that it was in Israel's interest to sign the deal. He said he had originally been concerned that if the port was under Chinese management, the U.S. navy would no longer dock in Haifa. But then he realized that the Chinese are in many ports in the U.S., including in Seattle and Norfolk [home of the largest U.S. naval base], which earlier this month received four massive cranes from China.
        Alexander Pevzner, director of the Chinese Media Center at the College of Management in Rishon Lezion, said the Chinese are also present at the port in Naples, where the U.S. Sixth Fleet docks. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Military Pressure on Iran in Syria Is Working - Daniel Siryoti
    Israeli officials believe that military pressure on Iran is deterring the Tehran regime from expanding its foothold in Syria. Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin, executive director of Tel Aviv University's Institute for National Security Studies, said on Tuesday that "neither the Russians nor the Americans will get the Iranians out of Syria - the entire task falls on Israel's shoulders."
        Yadlin added: "Even as Israel pursues this avenue, the goal of removing every last Iranian from Syria isn't prudent and involves risks, but it's certainly correct to draw red lines and act in accordance with them. These red lines include the establishment of another Hizbullah on the Golan Heights, the scope and breadth of the Shiite militias [operating in Syria], and Iran's precision missile program."
        "There's no doubt that the Iranians are far from realizing their intended plan - which not only hasn't materialized but even the limited presence [in Syria] it has managed to establish is shrinking."  (Israel Hayom)
  • Turkey's Expansionist Policy Exposed - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
    Turkish Intelligence has been assisting militant groups belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood and other radical organizations in Syria, Egypt, and Lebanon. Activities exposed by journalists are only the tip of the iceberg. Egyptian secret services caught Turkish intelligence officers red-handed assisting Islamic State extremists in the Sinai Peninsula. Greek authorities intercepted a ship loaded with a Turkish shipment of weapons supposedly destined for Muslim radicals in northern Lebanon. Turkish courts heard testimony that Turkish ammunition and mortar shells from Turkish intelligence depots were transported in trucks accompanied by state officials to parts of Syria under Islamist rebel control.
        In December 2018, Libyan customs caught separate shipments of weapons at the ports of Misurata and Al-Khoms originating in Turkey. Libyan National Army chief Khalifa Haftar called on the UN Security Council to condemn Turkey. Turkey has also played an important role in harboring Libyan Islamists and militants within its own borders.
        There is a pattern in this Turkish behavior. This is a Turkey headed by the militant President Erdogan who is trying to revive the Ottoman heritage. Expressions of his expansionist policy may be seen in a defense agreement with Qatar allowing Turkey to deploy more than 4,000 troops in the Gulf princedom, the recent acquisition of Suakin Island off the coast of Sudan (which used to be the headquarters of the Ottoman fleet in the Red Sea), a Turkish military presence in Somalia and parts of northern Iraq, assistance to Hamas in Gaza, and political activities in Jerusalem.
        The writer is a special analyst for the Middle East at the Jerusalem Center. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Palestinian Support for Two-State Solution Seen Declining - Col. (ret.) Michael Milstein and Avi Issacharoff (Strategic Assessment-Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
  • Among the Palestinians in recent years there has been growing interest in the idea of a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This is in part linked to the growing connection between Palestinians in the West Bank and the Arab sector in Israel.
  • It is also related to the collective sense that the Palestinian national movement is currently at an all-time low, with growing alienation between the public and the Palestinian leaderships in the West Bank and Gaza, the lack of public belief in their ability to achieve the goal of independence, and the sidelining of the Palestinian issue from the focus of the regional and international agenda.
  • Consequently, there is a growing argument in the Palestinian discourse that all other strategies for realizing national objectives have been tried and failed.
  • Moreover, the growing support for the idea of one state is fed by internal trends. Above all, there is the collective desire to retain a relatively stable standard of living in the West Bank, together with a widespread trend toward de-ideologization and depoliticization, reflecting exhaustion after many years of violent conflict driven by revolutionary fighting slogans, which ultimately failed to achieve any Palestinian national objectives.
  • The lessons from the severe decline that engulfed Arab societies in the region following the Arab Spring revolutions has led to increased fear of sharing this fate.
  • In addition, most of the younger Palestinian generation are concerned with personal fulfillment and development, and harbor suspicion and even alienation toward the sources of authority around them, including the Palestinian leadership.

    Col. (ret.) Michael Milstein is a former advisor on Palestinian affairs to the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories and former head of the Palestinian desk in the IDF Intelligence Research Division.
        Avi Issacharoff is a journalist specializing in Palestinian affairs who writes for the
    Times of Israel.